TORONTO — Love was in the air at Ensemble Travel Group’s annual DestinationVows conference last week, as 20 members of the consortium’s romance travel specialist program from Canada and the U.S. gathered in the D.R. for a series of wedding-themed site tours and workshops.
The week-long event, which began in Punta Cana and ended in Cap Cana, was designed to both inform and inspire Ensemble members working in destination wedding tourism – a flourishing market that holds endless possibilities for business-savvy travel advisors.
“The goal of the program is to provide our members with the tools and ingenuity to thrive in this unique sector, where one well-executed wedding can lead to countless other booking opportunities, as well as lifelong clients,” said Ensemble’s Co-President Lindsay Pearlman. “Couples’ getaways can lead to proposal trips, stag and doe weekends, group weddings, honeymoons, babymoons, family vacations, and so much more.”
The conference kicked off at CHIC Punta Cana resort with several days of interactive training sessions covering 2018 wedding trends, product familiarization, social media marketing, and strategic business planning. Attendees were also given the opportunity to tour an expansive collection of all-inclusive luxury properties throughout the week, while benefiting from the event planning expertise of more than 12 resorts, including the recently-opened Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa.
At one point Ensemble’s romance travel specialists became guests of the bride and groom while visiting Majestic Mirage Punta Cana, where the events team threw an ‘extravagantly fictitious’ wedding that started with a heartfelt beachfront ceremony and ended with a rooftop reception of dinner, dancing and a classically contentious bouquet toss.
“Before this conference, a lot of our destination wedding specialists said they came close to selling some of these brands to their clients, but held back because they didn’t know the properties well enough,” said Liz Scull, DestinationVows program manager. “Being able to visit these places in person and really get a sense of how the resort teams organize and execute these lucrative and large-scale events is, we believe, invaluable to our members’ success moving forward.”
The educational event was sponsored by Air Canada Vacations, Blue Diamond Resorts and Hotels, AmStar, Hola Tours and AlSol Hotels and Resorts, which hosted the DestinationVows specialists for the final three nights at Sanctuary Cap Cana.
For many of the attendees, the annual conference provides an opportunity to focus on emerging wedding trends, get a refresher on property products and exchange ideas with like-minded peers. “To be able to meet with other destination wedding specialists from all over North America was fantastic,” said Hayley Hutchinson, Ensemble member and owner of Wanderlust & Weddings. “Not only did I make strong business contacts, but also started friendships, which I believe in this industry is a gift in itself.”